John: How did you get into modeling? For how long have you been at it?
Gary: I was inspired as a 5 year old youngster by a family friend who built some of the original Airfix aircraft kits and displayed them way up on his bedroom dressing table. My parents had to lift me up to have a look, and I\'d take in all I could for those few seconds. I soon started building my own at about 8 years old, purchasing an Airfix bagged 1/72 aircraft kit at Woolworth\'s on the way home from the Saturday morning “flicks”.
John: Your new book is a bit of a departure from other Osprey Modelling books in that it doesn't just focus on one type of armored vehicle--why the change and what are you trying to accomplish with it?
Gary: In reality, each of the Osprey modeling books I\'d done previously were a guide to general modeling principles with some technical tidbits thrown in to help correct and improve commercially available model kits of specific AFV types. The latest book on non-specific AFV modeling is an abbreviated guide that covers a wider subject base . Wheeled and tracked vehicles as well as earlier modern designs are featured. It also discusses a more broad range of construction and finishing techniques since all five contributing authors do things in a slightly different way.
John: How long does it typically take you to finish a model and how many models are you generally working on at one time?
Gary: Since I have a full time job as an analyst at a chemical plant, my hobby time is limited to spare time during evenings and weekends. I can typically complete a model on a small vignette base including a couple of figurines in about 3 months. Since some of my subjects tend to be open-topped vehicles, it\'s like having to build two models at the same time, and it can add an extra length of time into the project.
Since a model can be in a waiting stage, especially during painting and weathering, I will usually begin research and subsequent construction of a new project at that time. I try and limit the amount of projects on the go at one time to two, since the space needed for construction parts and reference material is limited in my hobby area.
John: How important would you say after market parts are to the hobby?
Gary: The world of after-market parts have taken the hobby to a much higher level in terms of accuracy and detail. When compared to 15 to 20 years ago, models now can be tremendously realistic, and it\'s sometimes hard to tell if a photograph is of a model or the real vehicle. Since the advent of the after-market producers, kit manufacturers have started incorporating a lot of this newer technology into their commercially available products, such as photo etched parts and individual link tracks. Because of the research involved in producing the after-market items, modelers now have some of their additional homework done for them.
John: How do you know when a model is finished?
Gary: For me, a model is never really finished. There is always an extra element of construction or finishing that could be accomplished on a project. Since I\'ve typically had time deadlines to deal with, there has to be some compromises made along the way, and the model will finally be placed into a vignette with some figures . At this point I photograph everything, study the pictures, make some fine adjustments on some things that don\'t seem right, and then repeat the process until the project looks acceptable.
John: What advice do you have for people thinking of getting into the hobby?
Gary: I\'m always keenly interested to talk to folks that are just entering the hobby to what it is that has drawn them in. Historical interest or just a fascination with miniatures can be factors that inspire modelers, and their pursuit of the hobby may be channeled along various routes. I would advise any fledgling hobbyist to contact their local hobby shop and find out if there are any scale model clubs in their vicinity. Attending related events such as a model meeting or a hobby show can help make contact with other people having similar interests.
It\'s also important not to be intimidated initially by some of the work displayed by the more experienced hobbyists. Model for yourself, and learn from the work and experiences of others Experiment with the new tools and materials you discover. Before long you\'ll be able to lend advice to the ones who helped get you started.
John: And what advice do you have for all the people out there who struggle with perfectionism?
Gary: Unfortunately some folks struggle with perfectionism resulting in that they start many projects but never finish any of them. Although it\'s considered “part of the hobby” to wait for elusive detailed information before proceeding with a specific step in the construction or finishing stage of a model, I\'ve learned that to finish any project it must be compromised at some point. Also, we are our own worst critics, and a flaw in our work will probably not be as noticeable by others. The longer a project sits on the bench dormant, the more difficult it is to get back at it and finish it off.
My advice to these people would be to force themselves to complete the stage at which they feel they cannot proceed at the risk of compromise. Once a project has been re-initiated, it really is fun to continue again!
Gary's latest book, Modelling Armoured Vehicles is out in November - and is available for pre-order here.